There is only one way to become a dominant force in the world of publishing. Submit and submit often. I have yet to embrace this truism. I know that unless I submit, no one will see my work. And if no one sees your work, then you’ll never be published. And I want to be published. So I will submit.
Submission means supplicating the lords of publishing. (Or should I say the ladies of publishing. Since many of the editors and agents that work with romance are women.) Taking your humble work in hand and laying it on the altar of review so that it can be cut apart by knives.
Is it that bad? Well, when you get rejected it feels that way. I spent Friday morning on tenterhooks waiting for the results of RWA’s Golden Heart contest. I felt reasonably good about my entry. I didn’t expect to win, but I had a good chance of finaling. It’s a contest for unpublished writers, so the competition is all inexperienced people. Right? Wrong.
The more I read about the Golden Heart, the more I realized that my competition was fierce. Many of the entrants had finaled before, some of them more than once. Many had published short stories so they stayed within the lines of “unpublished”. And some of these more experienced writers had entered more than once, so when I didn’t final I felt marginally better. But I was still depressed.
I moped around and felt sorry for myself. My husband patted my shoulder and told me, next year. My friends were outraged on my behalf. But when it comes down to it I was still left with the results. No final placement. Should I give up?
Does this mean I’m no good, that my writing is terrible? Well, I don’t have my final scores yet, so I don’t know how close I came. But in a contest of say, 80 people, 8 finaled. That means I may possibly have received a B grade. We’ll find out in a few weeks. Well you know, if that’s what I did then that’s not bad for a newbie. After reading the blogs of other Golden Heart finalists I found out that many of them had manuscripts that finaled one year and didn’t the next. Meaning that its something of a crap shoot.
As Laurie Kellog, blogging for The Ruby Slippered Sisterhood and multiple Golden Heart finalist, put it:
“Being a RITA or Golden Heart finalist means a great deal. Five judges had to agree they loved that entry, so it must be pretty darn good. At the same time, NOT getting a call means absolutely nothing. It’s not a sign that your story or writing aren’t excellent. I am living proof of that. My non-finalist entry in 2005, which had been a 2004 GH finalist, competing against my first Golden Heart winner, was also an American Title finalist and went on to WIN the 2006 Golden Heart a year later without a single revision. The only thing that NOT getting a call means, is that one (or more) of your judges wasn’t blown away by your entry for a multitude of possible reasons:”
When I read this is says to me that one entry in one contest means nothing. It means it’s time to put the big boots on and get out there in the mud. It’s time to submit to more contests, contests with feedback. It’s time to find out if my writing is so-so or award winning.
So I’m adding to my yearly goals. In January I decided I would enter two contests. I’m entered in one with my novella Little Red Riding Wolf, and I’m going to enter the Queen’s Huntsman in another in May. But, I have now decided, I am going to bow down to the publishing world and submit.
I pledge now to submit my work to five contests this year. And I am going to continue to submit to publishers and editors. Its time to approach the gods with my work in hand. Only by asking for rejection, only by actively submitting and courting rejection can anyone win. Ask any athlete, ask any NYT author, ask anyone who had a dominant position in their field. They risked rejection. They chased opportunity with their work in hand. So look out world, dominance, here I come.